Welp AM, et al. Semin Thorac Cardiovasc Surg 2020.
The peer-reviewed literature is often referenced to generalize outcomes for lung cancer surgeries performed within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and include assessments following resection of early stage non-small cell lung cancer. We sought to determine the reliability of these reports that are publicly available. A systematic review was undertaken to identify PubMed indexed articles that report post-operative outcomes following surgical resections for stage I NSCLC within the VHA.
Only studies that reported American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging were included. Eleven studies spanning 49 years (1966-2015) met the inclusion criteria. Two reported findings from national VHA databases while nine reported outcomes from single institutions. Reporting of outcomes and prognostic factors varied widely between studies and were frequently omitted. This made it difficult to evaluate prognostic factors that may be associated with a wide range of 30- and 90-day perioperative mortality (0-3.8% and 0-6.4%), 3- and 5-year cause specific survival (72-92% and 32-84%), and 3- and 5- year overall survival (47-85.7% and 24-74%). The quality of peer-reviewed literature that reports outcomes following thoracic surgery for stage I NSCLC in the VHA is inconsistent and precludes accurate assessments for generalizations about the quality of care in this healthcare system. Efforts to develop a dedicated outcome tracking and registry system can provide more meaningful evidence to identify areas for improvement for this often-curable malignancy.